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Faculty Forum Papers

"November 1977 - A Faculty Lobby in Salem" By

Thurston E. Doler
Speech Communication

November 1977

The matter of faculty lobby at the Oregon Legislature is an idea whose time came in 1975, in 1977, and will come again in 1979. I like to think that by 1979 we shall have organized our faculties in a manner to act systematically in responding to proposals that would effect our lives and in initiating our own bills in pursuit of our needs as we see them.

During the recent session several measures were introduced which purported to regulate some aspect of faculty employment. An example was H.B. 2702 which would have legislated the publishing of anonymous student evaluations of classes and teachers. Responses were made by faculty to these proposals when they were scheduled for public hearings, and several faculty, including the Dean of Faculty and the Vice Chairman of the Faculty Senate, spent considerable time and some money commuting to Salem and appearing before committees. These people testified as their best judgement dictate in giving their opinions as individual faculty. I think they did a good job in the aggregate and I have no argument with the quality of their presentations. The problem, as I see it, was the absence of an organization to anticipate the introduction of bills which might be in our best interest, and lack of machinery to monitor, plan and appear with extensive preparation for the measure at hand. We were always on the defensive as we reacted to someone else's initiative!

I am aware of the line to be drawn between faculty speaking for themselves or for Oregon State University or the System of Higher Education. This difference will have to be closely guarded. But with the continuing propensity of the legislature to consider proposals which have a direct bearing on the lives of faculty and students of the University, I think faculty need their own representatives who are empowered to represent majority faculty views on strategic matters.

A further apparent problem is the general lack of popularity of higher education in the legislature. As I become better acquainted with more legislators and people who deal with it I discover that they do not have a very accurate idea of what I think higher education is all about and what the role of the faculty is in the educative process. I am will to bet that with a presence there we can turn this thing around.

The kind of response to this situation that I am advocating takes only three things - besides the will to act. They are organization, people and money. We need an organizational base; we need a way of selecting people to represent us; and we need a system of meeting whatever expenses are incurred. Where do we find them?

There is some possibility that the faculty will choose collective bargaining and that the CB agent could meet part of our need. Since nobody now knows exactly what scope of activity would be generated by a bargaining unit, I do not think we should wait to see whether CB is chosen or not. Why not proceed to meet a need that will be there regardless of the CB movement?

So, where do we get the three vital ingredients of organization, people and money? I would like to see the Faculty Senate take on the job and see what can be generated. Much is already being said about this very possibility, and the vital missing ingredient now seems to the will to act. This impetus will be provided by the senators' constituency as we insist upon their action. If we intend to be organized and into action by the 1979 legislature, we have to do it this year. The foundation work must be laid this spring to be ready to move into action a year from now. All we need to get a start is to put the item on the agenda of the Senate's meeting and set the debate in motion. I hereby invite the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate to place this question on the Senate agenda.

Note: This paper was written prior to the distribution of a questionnaire from the Senate's Executive Committtee regarding the topic of faculty lobbying.